** (out of four)
Including star Kristen Bell, the big-screen continuation of three-season teen-detective drama “Veronica Mars” features four significant players from two-season cult hit “Party Down.” Rumors once swirled about a movie based on the latter show. Now that’s the feature-length episode I want to see.
Instead we have the Kickstarter-funded “Mars,” which doesn’t seem to realize that while a high-school private eye is unique, an adult investigator isn’t quite as novel. Actually, when the movie starts—after a quick recap, for those who either never saw the show (you?) or forgot the little bit they did see (me)—Veronica (Bell) has put her sleuthing days in the past. She’s dominated Columbia law school and has the inside track on a gig at a big New York firm. Just when you think you’re out, as they say, they pull you back in. For Veronica, it’s yet another mystery in her hometown of Neptune, Calif. and another complicated situation for formerly exonerated Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). He swears that, just like he really didn’t off his other TV ex-girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried!), he didn’t kill his recent flame, a pop star he knew from high school.
It’s great that the Internet has provided a way for fans to keep their favorite shows alive and, in this case, help creator/director/co-writer Rob Thomas (not that one) turn the small-screen investigator into a movie title. At this point, it’s likely the only way the likable Bell (“When in Rome”) will headline a film.
So hopefully the die-hards still enjoy the wave of snarky quips, which to some may be the peak of cleverness but to me are the equivalent of trying to snap with wet fingers. References to Yahtzee, Terrance and Phillip and MC Hammer, and telling your boyfriend he’s a “sexual Sharknado”? This sounds like a writer talking, not a charming, funny character who can make the jump from TV.
“Veronica Mars” features a hilarious cameo I won’t spoil because it’s the movie’s liveliest scene. Otherwise it feels like Thomas stretching to include all the original characters and settling for a middling mystery less mind-tickling than “Non-Stop.” That movie, at least, goes from kind of fun to really bad. “Veronica Mars” is so average it may as well never have existed at all.
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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